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Monday morning, June 11, 2012 South Pacific Academy held its commencement ceremony for the Class of 2012, comprising 15 SPA Seniors.

The theme for the graduating class was “Esprit de Corps”

Attended by over a hundred guests, the invocation and closing prayer was offered by Reverend Dr. Donald Samuel.

Welcomed by South Pacific Academy principal Evelyn Lili’o-Satele, Special Remarks were delivered by Lt. Governor Faoa Sunia; and the class’ Guest Speaker was one of their own, Cadet Joseph Joo, who was the Salutatorian of SPA’s Class of 2011, and is now a member of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he has just finished his first year.

“A line is now drawn to two stages of your lives” Faoa said, “and that is childhood, and adulthood. Today you are a child, after today, you are an adult. I am referring to the aspect of life called responsibilities. Tomorrow, the society of law will begin to hold you, yourself responsible for your actions.

“Now having said that,  just put that on the back burner of your mind. Concentrate on celebrating, for today, surely is the day to celebrate.”

He continued, “As I sat here today and listened to the remarks of the principal, and looked at you graduates, I can see that you are a well bonded group of young men and women, who are about to disembark from this campus, to explore the world, and its many goodies. There is something very special about your group that I have noticed; it is like colorful fabric woven from chosen threads.”

Guest Speaker Cadet Joseph Joo reflected in his remarks the need for the graduates to take advantage of all the opportunities that “will appear right before your eyes” in college — study abroad programs, research programs with professors, community service for your society.

“Throw away that laziness and challenge yourself to participate in everything that you could possibly accomplish,” said Joo.

“For me, this was running a half marathon. Back in April, our cadets at West Point had to sign up to run in a half marathon, in remembrance of our fallen comrades back in the Middle East. It was a 14-mile run, and I knew for a fact that this would be the hardest run of my life, because I never ran more that seven miles, compared to the half marathon.

“The first seven miles were okay, but every consecutive mile after that became a test of my will power... because honestly, I didn’t eat enough breakfast, and in ahead of time, I was getting a rash between my thighs, and my leg muscles were screaming “stop!”

“However, there was something I learned during my summer training. When I was talking to myself, I kept repeating in my mind, “just take one more step, just take one more step”, and with this painful method I was able to reach my journey of the last mile of our run, and our school had appeared right before my eyes, and then there I knew, I could finish my marathon.”

He concluded, “If you challenge yourself, then try your hardest. You have to try ridiculously hard, though.”

The Class of 2012 Valedictorian is Kagiso Malar Samuel.

Acceptance and confirmation of the 15 graduating students of SPA was by Chairperson of the SPA Board, Chris King, who also presented the diplomas and awards.

Closing remarks were offered by Kathy Fitisone.


Valedictorian Award:            Kagiso Malar Samuel

Salutatorian Award:            Seung Eun Lee

Perseverance Award:            Eileen Liu

Presidential Awards for Educational Excellence:            Kagiso Samuel, Seung Eun Lee, Jillian Javier, Jong Gun Ham

Presidential Award for Educational Achievement:            Ioane Tuiteleleapaga, Mark Matias

Ta’ita’itama Award:            Jillianne Dayao Javier

Rotary Club 4 Way Test Award:            Kagiso Samuel

ASG Scholarships:            Jong Gun Ham, Zachary Faulkner

Florence Saulo and Associates Scholarship Award:            Kagiso Samuel, Zachary Faulkner



SPA Valedictorian 2012 — Kagiso Samuel

Honorable guests, respective elders, principal, staff, beloved parents, friends, and my fellow graduates, good morning. I humbly thank our God Almighty for giving me this opportunity, to stand before your to give you thanks and good wishes. Surely, it is the everlasting love of God revealed to those around us, that we are now able to begin a new chapter in our lives.

Esprit De Corps, in Samoan, “E tasi, ae afe”.

As we enter a new stage of our lives, it is important for us to remember and follow this principle, the spirit of being one, this course causes us to strive forth, being in one spirit and one mind, with one another, and most importantly, with God. My fellow classmates, in a sense, we are all valedictorians, yes we have all strived and completed this chapter of our lives. But let us not forget, there are more chapters to look forward to in our book of life.

Moreover, as we grow, let us not forget to cherish, and be thankful to those who have helped and fashioned us along the way, after all, as mentioned before, no person is an island. Whether we know it or not, at least one or more people, have helped us along the way to get here. So my fellow graduates, let us take a moment, turn to your left and right, and say thank you to one another, now turn to the back, face your parents families and teachers, and say thank you.

…Together with one heart and spirit, Esprit De Corps, you made South Pacific Academy one loving family. Dear fellow graduates, I will truly cherish all your friendship.

…I— and I am sure all of us— have been challenged to widen our understanding that we can be better global citizens, and with those diverse opinions, let us strive out, and work towards our set goals together, and follow the meaning of Esprit De Corps.

We have set numerous milestones, and being here today, we have accomplished one of the greatest things in life, nevertheless we have more things yet to accomplish.

As we grow, we continue to learn more things about ourselves, and the world around us. As Dolphins we will part ways for now, and journey out to various parts of the world, but we will always continue to be a family. After all, once a Dolphin, always a Dolphin.

As we cross oceans, our tribe in this paradise of American Samoa, with God, let us try and continue to set more milestones. Friends, as we begin the rest of our lives, let us remember the wise saying, “yesterday’s history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a present, a gift from God”.

Throughout our journey, let us always remember, we carry on the lessons we have learned here at SPA, and outside, let us use the opportunities given, and look day by day towards purposes and promises and hopes that have been instilled in us for a better tomorrow.

God bless, fa’afetai and thank you.



Leilani Marianne Duchnak

Zachary Aaron Faulkner *

Jong Gun Ham *

Seonghee Hong *

Jillianne Dayao Javier *

Da Seol Kim*

Jasmine Kim *

Seung Eun Lee *

Eileen Liu

Mark Joshua Matias

Kagiso Malar Samuel *

Jangwon Suh

Yaobin Tang

Ioane Gabriel Fue Tuiteleleapaga

Danytra Barbara Amy Young

NHS Members*